Fandom feels like a pretty toxic place lately. If it’s not people petitioning to have creators re-make a show they didn’t like the ending of, it’s people getting caught up in YouTube ‘influencer’ drama like any of that is more important than the current cluster-fudge of politics and threat of climate change. There are people still arguing over Voltron ships on my Twitter feed this week, for goodness’ sake!
So in an attempt to counter all of that negativity, I want to take a moment to remember all the times fandom has made my life better. All the little things that fans do that make fandom a force for good, or that just bring a smile to my face for a little while.
- When the ‘Venom’ movie fandom took a film about alien invasion and threat to humanity, and used it as the basis for sweet domestic romance stories about a clingy symbiont and its loser boyfriend. Eddie/Venom stories are honestly some of the most heartwarming fluffy love-stories I’ve come across.
- When fans latch on to a character with barely any screen-time or dialogue, and create a whole sub-section of fanworks for them, showering them with love and creating entire back-stories and future possibilities for them. See Jonathan from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and Kouda Kouji from ‘My Hero Academia’.
- When fans of a relatively small show expand their interests into other shows by the same creator or featuring the same actor, and create a whole six-degrees-of-separation fandom, with cross-overs and AUs. It helps expand and build on a small canon, and allows fans to discover new shows they might not have known about otherwise. I loved the Canadian six-degrees fandom that grew up around ‘Due South’, and even more so the six-degrees-of-Boosh fandom that grew around Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt.
- When a fandom inspires me to research something relevant to the show. I tend to do it for the purposes of fic writing, but sometimes I just get so caught up in what I’m researching that it becomes entertainment itself. Some years ago when I was part of the six-degrees-of-Boosh fandom and writing fic for ‘Surrealissimo: The Scandalous Success of Salvador Dali’, I started researching the life of the surrealist poet Rosey – I got so into it that I tracked down all sorts of works and essays I never would have encountered otherwise. I couldn’t actually find much on the poet himself, but I still appreciated that opportunity to learn stuff I wouldn’t have without the fandom.
- When ‘Red Dwarf’ fans responded to transphobic jokes in season 11 with fix-it fics. I get how frustrating and disappointing it is when a show or story you’re emotionally invested in does something you don’t like. I understand the sense of ownership that comes with being a fan of something. But ultimately, the canon is the decision of the creators. Fanfiction is our outlet for our hopes and wishes for the story; a way of staying invested in the source material while expressing our desire for better representation.
- When fans get together to speculate about a story, decoding clues, sharing predictions and interpreting canon. See ‘Sarazanmai’ and its growing fandom.
- When fans invest their own time, resources and knowledge into making stuff more accessible. I am forever grateful to the fans who go to the effort of subbing seiyuu videos and episode previews, or translating magazine interviews.
I would love to hear your stories of fandom joy. How has fandom made your life that little bit happier? Whether it’s learning something new, meeting friends, being pleasantly surprised by fan creations, or something else, tell me in the comments or share your #FandomJoy with me on Twitter @oldanimefan.